Many youths are described as leaders of tomorrow. Many agree that youth themselves are a reflection of the society. The nature of the socio political and economic environment which had prevailed in the country imposed constraints in terms of meeting the need and aspiration of the youth.
It is very glaring that no country aspiring to greatness can afford to ignore the contributions of its youth or allow them to constitute a major threat to the realisation of its policies and programmes. Unfortunately, the current social, economic and political trends have left a sour taste in the mouth of the youths; particularly those from poor social and economic backgrounds.
It is apparent that the present high value for money and other acquisition regarded as yardstick for determining the status of individual in the society seem to have worsened the plight of youths. This is because; they have eroded the societal value for dignity of labour and moral integrity as youths have directed their energies to earn a living through foul means.
It is disheartening and worrisome that some youths involve in cybercrime to the detriment of the image of the country. The internet crimes were born out of the fact that teenagers are not monitored by their parents and schools. Some students were exposed through the internet to unwholesome literature through reading junk mails on the net. Some of them visit pornographic sites to share fun with people of opposite sex. It is not pleasant for parents to run permissive homes at the expense of their children and wards.
The recalcitrant youths are defrauding unsuspecting members of the public of huge sum of money and valuable possessions. The prevalence of cybercrime calls for the urgent attention of the government, considering the devastating effects on social and economic life of the citizenry.
Cybercrime is a criminal activity that involves a computer network device or a network. While most cybercrimes are carried out in order to generate profit for cybercriminals, some cybercrimes are carried out against computer devices directly to damage or disable them, while others use computers or network to spread malware, illegal information, images or other materials. It is also confirmed that some cybercrime do both, i.e. target computers to infect them with viruses, which are then spread to other machines and sometimes entire networks.
In Nigeria, the three pronged advent of the internet, computers and the mobile phones gave rise to massive outbreak of cybercrimes. It is very glaring that criminals and fraudsters leverage on anonymity provided by the internet to defraud unsuspecting victims. The fraudsters are fond of impersonating others and stealing their identities to perpetrate their acts, they could take the undue advantage of a family member in distress to swindle their victims.
The cybercrimes are of different categories. It ranges from Yahoo boys and their 419 internet Frauds; Hacking; Software Piracy; Pornography; Credit Card or ATM Fraud; Denial of Service Attack; Virus Dissemination; Phishing; Cyber Plagiarism; Cyber Stalking; Cyber Defamation .
One may be wondering why youths engage or involve in Cybercrime in Nigeria. Cybercrimes like other criminal activities are highly motivated by certain conditions. Urbanisation is one of the major causes of cybercrime, it is emphasized that urbanization without crime is really impossible. The influx of youth to cybercrime is thriving among urban areas because the elites find it lucrative to invest in cybercrime as it is a business that requires less capital.
The prevalence of high rate of unemployment, harsh economic conditions and poor educational systems contribute immensely to the proliferation of cybercrime in Nigeria. Youths are no longer facing the reality of canvassing for vocational jobs where they find it difficult to get a white collar job.
The inordinate ambition and quest for wealth is the bane of the challenges most of the desperate youths are facing and they opted for cybercrime to identify with the rich and affluent in the society without taking into cognisance the detrimental consequence of their actions.
The country is not implementing stringent legislation to dissuade the youths from partaking in cybercrimes. Weak and fragile laws regarding cyber criminals exist in Nigeria. The most unfortunate is that the nation is not adequately equipped with sophisticated hardware to track down the forensic criminals. Our law enforcement agents are inadequately equipped in terms of personnel, intelligence and infrastructure to tackle the menace of cybercrimes that is adversely affecting the international image and corporate identity of the country.
It is saddening to observe that many parents transmit crime values to these wards, via socialisation as if it is a social and cultural value which ought to be transmitted to the younger generation. The negative role model syndrome is having devastating impacts on the lives of youths involving in cybercrimes and other sharp practices.
The challenge of cybercrime is posing a negative effect on the inflow of foreign direct investment as every potential foreign and local investor sees a possibility of being scammed, which negates the foundation of trust which should underlay every business transaction. Without mincing words, cybercrimes constitute a colossal damage to the reputation and corporate image of the country. No wonder, notwithstanding the enormous economic, socio, cultural, natural and business potentials of the nation, most entrepreneurs are sceptical of investing in Nigeria because of the proliferation of online crimes which characterised our daily activities. Due to cybercrimes, individuals, private and public business outfits, within and outside the country have lost billions of dollars annually, the security and financial health of the country at large is threatened as a result of the internet crimes.
What do you think of the unquantifiable loss through identity theft, unauthorized access to important information like trade secrets and through scams in which victims willingly pay for undelivered services? It is unheard of that revenue losses are indirect because the country cannot boast of an effective organised structure for monitoring internet businesses; this development leads to huge loss of revenue through missed taxes, piracy, and intellectual property infringements. Sometimes people are psychologically affected when the internet is used as an avenue to social vendetta, cyber terrorism and cyber warfare.
How do we combat cybercrime in Nigeria? It is obvious that cybercrime cannot be easily eliminated, but it can be minimized. It calls for the collaborative efforts of all the stakeholders like individual corporate organisations and government to nip it in the bud. The Government at all levels should ensure that their laws apply at cybercrimes. It is important that Nigeria as a nation take measures to ensure that its penal and procedural law is adequate to meet the challenges posed by cybercrimes. Not only this, government should ensure that laws are formulated and strictly adhered to irrespective of the status and personality of the people that are involved. I want to believe that creation of job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths will minimise the menace drastically.
It is equally important that individuals should take all necessary precautions by observing allsimple roles to checkmate the perpetrators of the cybercrimes. It behoves on individuals on their part to ensure proper anti-malware protection on their computer system, avoid pirated software, never to share their Personal Identification Number (PIN), bank account, e-mail access code, etc. It is also important to ignore any e-mail requiring any financial information, The Telecommunication Regulatory Agencies should enhance security on Internet Service Providers’ servers in order to detect and trace cybercrimes.
Eradication of cybercrimes is achievable provided all the stakeholders can collaborate to it. For the nation to thrive, we must build on a crime-free society.
*** Tunde Ajibike works with the Oyo State Ministry of Information.